The Emergence of a New Epoch - A Dim Future for Life on Earth

by cstew92 on October 8, 2016 - 2:35am

This article begins by declaring the transition of human history into a new geological epoch known as the Anthropocene – as determined by a working group of high-level geologists. They’ve concluded that the main contributors of this rapid transition are a result of radioactive material during 1950’s hydrogen bomb testing, climate change, mining within the earth’s crust, and the development of widespread agriculture throughout the world. Author/activist and former politician Ian Angus recently published a book titled ‘Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System’ and has been travelling around Canada to speak to Universities about this issue. He is quoted saying “the last time an epoch was put on the charts, it marked the retreat of glaciers 12,000 years ago”. One of the professors from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia who met with Angus explains that the human race seems to have crossed a threshold in that we are permanently affecting the earth’s natural regulating systems due to the burning of fossil fuels, and unsustainable human activity. Angus is hopeful that by eliminating the reliance on fossil fuels, we can reduce the effects of human induced climate change.

It is a well known fact that humans are one of the main contributors to what we are now coining the Anthropocene epoch. As the earth struggles to maintain equilibrium, extreme weather events have become more frequent and their destruction has increased. The main issue is that this will only continue to increase unless we stop ignoring the warning signs, and begin finding ways to create a sustainable balance in which we extract, consume, and dispose of resources. This is currently being done by the implementation of renewable resources like solar, wind, and tidal energy, however the capitalistic structure in which industrialized economies thrive emphasizes the need for wealth and power ahead of a sustainable environment.

Although humans have inhabited earth for a very short period of time, the amount of impact has had lasting effects that are becoming more and more obvious. This leads many people to question whether humans are the sole reason for this transition. This is hard to argue considering the evidence of rapid advancements in human activity and the continuous modifications made to the composition to the earth, from nuclear testing to the combustion of fossil fuels. When contemplating the geological time frame in which earth and even life for that matter was formed, it is difficult to pin-point exactly when this transition began to occur. The consensus is that it began somewhere between the rise of widespread agriculture and the industrial revolution.

Many of the underlying issues are linked together and seem to point in one direction – that is the rapid change to our global climate system. To highlight one example, warming atmospheric temperatures lead to the melting of ice sheets triggering a rise in sea level, this then increases the risk of flooding and ultimately has a profound effect on human life. This is just one of the many interchangeable mechanisms that have been simultaneously occurring since the discovery of natural resource extraction.

From a non-anthropocentric point of view when researching past epochs, and the evolution of the earth itself, it is evident that throughout history there have been many natural factors that have also shaped the earth into the complex system it is today. In particular, when studying earth’s eccentricity cycles patterns in orbital movement can be revealed involving the distance between the earth and sun helping to indicate amounts of solar radiation hitting earth. Due to this fact, and because we are currently in a warming period is it safe to say that maybe this has a profound effect on the earth’s climate system?

Although the main cause is still up for debate, we do know for certain that human activity has in large part played a dominant role in altering the global climate system. Whether due to the actions of individuals, the foundations of which economic institutions are based upon, or the natural characteristics of the earth. One thing is for sure, we must collectively as The Human Race confront the problems we are faced with and fight for the preservation of the natural world because otherwise we are knowingly and willingly helping to contribute to the demise of earth as a hospitable planet.

Ball, David. ‘The new Anthropocene epoch has arrived, and its very worrisome’. Metro News, 14 Sep. 2016, Accessed 6 Oct. 2016.



I was really blown away with your post. Your title definitely caught my attention, not only was it intriguing but Anthropocene was also the concept I discussed. I’ll start by mentioning I thought your blog was extremely clear and to-the-point, you did not waste any of my time giving me useless jargon and your structure was well thought out and organized. In regards to the content of your blog, I think I like most that you chose to acknowledge the other side of the argument at one point – stating that the Earth does go through its own natural transitions where things drastically change. I feel its necessary to specify that what you’re referring to are ice ages and various specie extinctions (among other things) that have occurred throughout history as a result of natural causes. What I felt made your argument stand out is that you point out that although these processes have occurred naturally throughout history, human impact has exacerbated these issues, making them happen more often than they naturally would. I fully agree with this argument, as well as most of the others you make in regards to humans and their unrelenting impact on Earth. You would think with so much scientific evidence that details the extent of the damage we have done we would have collectively changed our consumption patterns by now, but it seems like that is too much to ask. Again, well done, I loved reading this post and great choice of article!


This post was very fascinating to read. As i was reading i was very intrigued on the facts that were stated on climate change and it made me do some research myself. As i looked into a few things like climate change effecting the glaciers i found an article stating that by drilling into glaciers it has been concluded that many different ice ages have occurred over thousands and thousands of years. This means that there have been multiple freezes and multiple thaws in the weather over the years. Reading this you have to consider and think about if humans have really had any effect at all on the earth. Yes we have used many fossil fuels over the years and we have had effects on animals habitats but have we had a major effect on the atmosphere? This article was very well written and was well worth reading.

Great blog!
It was definitely the tittle which caught my eye at first but since I am a geography student I have heard a lot of debate around this new “Epoch.” I was interested into reading your thoughts, or any new information regarding it. I think that the content in your blog was very clear, concise and educational. I have no problem at all following along, and I think that you explained this issue great, especially for people whom have never heard of the term Anthropocene before.

A key point that you mentioned in the blog was that Geologists have been busy searching for evidence which could further prove that Earth is, in fact heading into a new epoch. In the past, geologists and scientists have always differentiated epochs by fossil records. This is because fossil records can tell us a great deal about the gases that were in the atmosphere at the time and much more. Along with finding high levels of chemicals, as a result of bomb testing in the 50’s, scientists have now came across a new material. This material is called plastiglomerate. It is a result of plastic litter being fused with rocks and could very well become a permanent part of the geological records, (I will leave the link for you below.) This furthers the debate around Earth heading into a new epoch, however I feel strongly that there is enough evidence to already prove so.

The title of your article caught my eye. Your article is very well written and your argument is clear. I also liked that you mentioned that the Earth does have natural cycles of climate change. Humans are speeding up the cycle and making the changes more significant. I do wonder if the use of renewable resources would have enough of an impact to begin to "reverse" what we have already done or if the damage is permanent, specifically the damage done to the ozone. I have read a couple different articles that stated the pollution is actually creating another layer that is similar to the ozone.

It is hard to prove that the current climate changes are solely due to human activity and not just a natural cycle that we have only hypothesized and not experienced. Although we have strong evidence that human activity is speeding up this process greatly, one that scientists worry will not equal out unless the source of the problem is erased, unfortunately, this means humans.